What’s the price for a cup of coffé in Lindellhallen? And what is the sculpture by the campus pond representing? Those questions were the 500 international students challenged to answer during the Campus race on Wednesday afternoon.

– Oh no! The people we are following are splitting up! What should we do? I think we just follow the biggest group, says Renske Wienen, from the Netherlands, to the other four team members with different nationalities, as they head up towards Iksu.

It’s the first day of the Orientation, a course arranged for the 500 international students in order to make them become acquainted to Umeå and the university. The Orientation consists of both lectures and activities, and right now the students are in the middle of the Campus race.

After being divided into groups of around six students, they’ve received a map over campus and a sheet of paper with questions they’re going to answer on different places. But according to Renske, there are some problems.
– The map is not up to date, so we are just following people using Google Maps, she says.
Isn’t it cheating to use Google Maps?
– Yeah definitely, that’s why we should win, because we don’t. In this way we’re just following the crowd and by accident winning, she says and laughs.

Renske will take her master degree in cognitive science in Sweden, so she will stay here for two whole years. For that reason, she arrived to Umeå a month ago in order to move in. She tells that the education system and Sweden’s mindset when it comes to HBTQ-people are two things she likes about the country.
– I feel like the Netherlands is now taking steps to try to become Sweden. I can stay there and wait, but I can also just move to Sweden, she says.

Hector Moustakis has travelled from Greece to study at Umeå University. Apart from most of the international students who stay for one semester or two, he will stay for three years. During his time in Umeå he will study on the Bachelor of Science programme in Life Science.

Like the majority of the international students, he has applied to the buddy programme, which starts on Tuesday next week.
– It’s because I want to know more about the university and the city. I would like to socialize more because I’m not one of the most sociable people in the world. And I would like to meet more people and make new friends so I can feel more comfortable here in Umeå. I have already found some greeks here, and that made me feel much more comfortable. One of them works on the university.

In another group of students is Hanna Waeggemann from Germany.
– I heard about the Swedish educational system, and that it should be one of the best in the world. So that’s why I chose Sweden. And I also have to admit that I love the weather. Cold and crisp and finally some winter with snow. Also, I love fish, so let’s hope there’s some good food here, she says.

After a while Renske, Hector and the other students in their group have answered several questions. A tricky one appeared to be what kind of symbol’s in Skogis’ logotype? Soon they reach an even more challanging question. What is the sculpture beside the campus pond representing? Using Google Translate to interpret the name on the sign seems to be a bad idea. When the group translate “Norra skenet”, the application gives the answer “northen skier”.

Confused they look up at the sculpture.
– Do you want to know what it is? I ask them, and as I give them the answer, they look up at the sculpture again. Almost as questioning as before.
– I think that’s just as probable as a northern skier, to be honest. I don’t see any of them in it, says Renske.

Text and photo:
Vendela Wikström